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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: A year of playing under my belt


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/53948

UB2 - Posted - 08/21/2020:  16:09:07


Hello y'all I've been fiddling now a little over a year. Question....where should a player at my level be at in his or hers musical journey? Ability to play etc

Brian Wood - Posted - 08/21/2020:  16:41:37


After a year you should be playing over your belt.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 08/21/2020:  19:01:37


folks able to tell what tune you're playing without excusing themselves

In NC, being able to play "Sugar Hill" and "Ducks in the Millpond"--going up to Balsam Mtn and lettin'-er rip

Congrats on sticking with it!

KCFiddles - Posted - 08/21/2020:  20:02:13


quote:

Originally posted by Riptide

Hello y'all I've been fiddling now a little over a year. Question....where should a player at my level be at in his or hers musical journey? Ability to play etc






There aren't any "shoulds", IMHO. Depends entirely on your level of talent, what kind of instruction you get, and how hard and intelligently (productively) you practice. BTW, the reason I got into the fiddle business was to get away from "should" thinking.



One of our valued members, now deceased, put it very well: "If you jst want to be a fiddler, you're gonna have a hard time. If you just want to learn to play the fiddle, you'll have a good time all along." Just concentrate on enjoying the process, and progress will happen on its own.

Brian Wood - Posted - 08/21/2020:  20:56:52


Joking aside, I think what was important to me after playing for a year or so was the certainty I had that this was something I would continue. What you play, and how well you play is always variable depending on many things. If you’ve made it a part of your world then it’s working for you.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/22/2020:  03:32:58


Can't be measured by calendar... it's a bit more about the time and effort you put in; how much and quality. Nor is it easy to comparing to others.



Good opportunity to self evaluate your progress, and goals... How well did it meet your goal of where did you might expect to be from your efforts? Might ask what you might need to do different, refine, or new goals of where you want to go.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/22/2020:  07:04:13


I have played fiddle off and on for over 15 years. I have struggled with it at times and at times put it away in favor of the flute or mandolin. But I persevered and got to a point where most of the time if I start a tune people can recognize it. I have not been satisfied with my skills or my ability to progress. I reached my limit as far as the school of figuring it out on your own goes. So I hired a violin teacher and asked for basic violin skills. I now have tapes on my fingerboard, Suzuki Vol 1 (working on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and Barbara Barber's Scales for Young Violinists (working on G scale patterns.) I know that violin is not fiddle. The patterns my teacher chose are similar to the bowing patterns of things like the Nashville shuffle, but not at all the same. Still, I don't expect her to teach me to play the fiddle, just to have basic skills.

So, after more than 15 years I'm at the beginning! Maybe that gives you an idea that there aren't any "should bes" when it comes to self-teaching? Who knows? Some people are less gifted than others. My childhood of piano lessons, choir, handbells, and guitar lessons didn't make me a gifted self-learner of the fiddle. Nor did my annual workshops at the fiddle convention, weekly jams, and sessions trying to study youtube videos slowed to .5 or .25. YMMV.

farmerjones - Posted - 08/22/2020:  09:00:21


There's 8,760 hours in a year. How many of those, were you playing/practicing? Sure, everybody's different, but it's another, i think better, way to consider the journey.
I also hope that you're playing with other folks. Don't wait to get "good." Folks get good because they didn't wait.

Earworm - Posted - 08/22/2020:  09:06:44


I've heard it said that no one really plays the fiddle until about 10 years in. So buckle up and enjoy the ride!

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/22/2020:  13:13:50


It probably depends on a lot of stuff. If you are enjoying yourself at fiddling, I'd say you're right on target.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/22/2020:  13:36:48


From what I've seen, most people who have been playing One year are better than I was after TEN years.. really.. I took the long way........But, there is no rule, really...just play. Comparing your playing with others is natural, but totally unnecessary.. If you are having fun and can play along with some of your friends, you are doing fine..

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/22/2020:  13:40:53


Lee...did you take the scenic fiddle route? Lol...that's the road I've been on for a while now...lol.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/22/2020:  14:15:14


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

Lee...did you take the scenic fiddle route? Lol...that's the road I've been on for a while now...lol.






I learned in the early 70's..  No peer group, no jam sessions,  no computers, no YouTube, FEW cassettes, only Two books (yet I could NOT read music and had no idea what music theory was..had to teach myself)... Went to One fiddle weekend each year (battleground) had a business and a family to deal with.. yada, yada... I've Often  heard my neighbors slam doors/windows when I played outside... but fortunately I had a patient wife who never complained as long as I was in another room...This is why I'll teach anyone for FREE.. Nobody should have to go through what I went through.... 



In past topics I've been criticized negatively for saying that I offered to 'teach' people who I though could use help..I didn't do that lightly..Anyone who understood what I went through would have Encouraged me to teach..  If only some fiddlers could have walked a mile or two in my shoes, they'd be more willing to teach.... Ok..'nuff'.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/22/2020:  15:07:08


I hear ya...'Tis the sweet lament of self-taught musicians who are so compelled to learn and play they will endure the struggles no matter what. For a few years, Dwight Diller and I had long, long email conversations back and forth about music stuff...when I finally went to WV and met him...he watched me play the banjo and said I was "desperate" to play music...lol. I thought...yeah...that's the word...I've been desperate all my life to play.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 08/22/2020:  15:12:21


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I hear ya...'Tis the sweet lament of self-taught musicians who are so compelled to learn and play they will endure the struggles no matter what. For a few years, Dwight Diller and I had long, long email conversations back and forth about music stuff...when I finally went to WV and met him...he watched me play the banjo and said I was "desperate" to play music...lol. I thought...yeah...that's the word...I've been desperate all my life to play.






"desperate to play".. how poetic.. Some people have been blessed with youth and ability and learned early how to "fiddle'' and somehow Some of them may have for gotten that  fiddling doesn't come as easy for some as it does for others.. Certainly did NOT do so for me..

WyoBob - Posted - 08/22/2020:  15:44:32


quote:

Originally posted by Riptide

Hello y'all I've been fiddling now a little over a year. Question....where should a player at my level be at in his or hers musical journey? Ability to play etc






A question with no correct answer.



I've been playing one year.   My goal at first was to make good, solid notes on the fiddle which looked like an impossible task at the time.  My goal as I continued on my fiddle journey was to have fun and be better tomorrow that I was today.   I'm a bit ahead of where I thought I'd be and amazed that I'm as far along as I am (by my measurements, not others).



I'd played Old Time clawhammer banjo for 8 years before I bought a fiddle.  Having around 70 banjo tunes under my belt was a big help in picking up tunes on the fiddle.   I consider a tune "under the belt" if you can start the tune.   I've found, on the banjo, that I can now jump in a play tunes I don't know with others as long as they are 1,4,5 chords and "straight".   That was a major amazement to me and I was pretty danged tickled.  I don't know if I will ever be able to do that with the fiddle but will give it my best shot.



I'm pretty much self taught and I've gotten to the point where I can play along with recordings of tunes I know on the fiddle, about 20 tunes.   I have played my fiddle with a slow jam that I used to go to regularly but I've not played the fiddle with the really good players that I play with quite a bit with on banjo.



I need to continually work on intonation and bowing.   Intonation might be more of a problem for me as I wear hearing aids.  But, I get along pretty well playing along with recordings as it's easy for me to "get in snyc" with good players.



I wake up in the morning itching to play the fiddle and my banjo playing has been sporadic and has suffered a bit.   Heck, I dream fiddle tunes and wake up with the tune in my head and can't wait to eat breakfast and get downstairs to the "music room".  I'm having a blast and hope my hands will keep going.  Old age and arthritis create some problems but ---- I'm having fun and have no one to suit but myself.  I hope to be able to play my fiddle with my old time jam buddies (and not have them grab my fiddle and smash it)smiley   That's the goal I'm working towards, now.



 

UB2 - Posted - 08/22/2020:  16:31:45


My indotation has gotten off so I have had to go back to using my cheat sheet lol



 

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/22/2020:  19:15:30


I fiddled around here and there with fiddles in the past, but never got to the point financially and/or time-wise where I could have an instrument of my own to practice on and really learn. So finally I was lucky enough to retire at 55 and bought myself a fiddle and a presonus for retirement...lol...sounded like the perfect retirement plan to me. But we ended up with a lot of family stuff going on up and down the road which took all of our time, energy, and money, for years. I did manage to practice fiddle and start seriously trying to learn during those busy, exhausting first several years of retirement. Now, here at 67, I guess that means I've been playing/learning fairly steady for 12 years. I find that some days the fiddle just won't cooperate and my playing is so horrible I have to tell myself to just stop making the awful sounds. Other days, though...seems like it goes pretty good for me...I mean, given that I'm pretty much self-taught and got a late start with it. But I think one thing to remember is fiddle is not an easy instrument and probably a lot harder to make sound good than guitar or banjo or other instruments many of us, self included, have had more experience with. Fiddle is just a hard instrument. If you enjoy the journey, and you have a few good days among the bad, you're probably doing as well as anybody else. Even pros...I've heard them complain about their own fiddling...people who earn a living with a fiddle don't seem to sound like they want to yet...so...as long as you continue the journey, I think it means you're doing something you want to do...so...doing as well as anybody can.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/22/2020:  20:35:35


The tape my teacher put on my fiddle was car pinstriping tape, at least that's what she said. It's very narrow.

Boy I wish I could retire at 55 since I'm 55 now. :)

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/23/2020:  04:48:07


I wish you could too. I feel sorta guilty I got to do that...before I got the library job at the university, I figured neither one of us would ever retire...that job drove me crazy and I didn't like one minute of it or the workplace morale and atmosphere, or the pay...but the benefits...I was able to walk away before it drove me totally crazy...lol...it was a close call. We live on very little, but we had to do that all of our lives anyway...so that's ok. I can see now neither of us was cut out for office work. Of course, we got some pretty bad-apple peopple running the state after that so both of our pensions seem kinda insecure now...I might end up serving burgers at McDonald's if KY doesn't get it back together again soon...pandemic of course isn't helping anything either. But it does make me feel kinda bad for people who can't get out of a job (except people who like their jobs and pay and all that...they probably never wanna quit...I can imagine if I ever had a job doing something I loved and was good at I'd never feel like quitting)...it was pure luck...landing the right job somehow...poor treatment, poor pay, great benefits.

I hope you can retire soon and play fiddle all the time. That would be every fiddler's dream!

doryman - Posted - 08/23/2020:  17:01:47


I'm following this thread with much interest. After of lifetime of guitar, banjo and piano I took up the fiddle on my 60th birthday this past November. Playing banjo has certainly helped, not with the mechanics of playing fiddle but with everything else that goes along with playing music with others. The music is already in my head, I'm decent at playing music by ear, and I can anticipate chord changes, etc...



With certainty I can say that no instrument I've played has been harder to play well (i.e., sound good) but no instrument has been as fun. Sometimes I'm so bad I laugh out loud at the "music" I'm making and at other times I laugh in delight because something accidentally sounded good.



I think I'm different than many beginners in that my immediate goal was and is to play the fiddle in a jam setting, not to learn a list of tunes (although I do that to). So I set about learning simple bowing shuffle patterns and double stop chords in the common keys (A,D,C,G and E) so that I could start playing soft back-up with a group. I'm know the I,IV,V and relative minors for these keys in a couple of places on the fretboard. This has worked very well and I'm now adding some embellishment. This strategy, however, has left me with a glaring weakness, and that is taking leads...and sometimes, most of the time, all I do is play the same back-up patterns...only louder!



Am I where I want to be after nine months? In terms of having fun with the fiddle, that's a big yes. I'm also satisfied in that I am able to bring my fiddle to a jam and not make people run away. I learned from playing the banjo that sometimes the best thing you can do in a jam is to not play at all...and I do that frequently with my fiddle!  I'm disappointed in my intonation. When I record myself I can barely stand to listen to the recording. I'm working on it though. I'm also not satisfied with my speed. I cannot play a fiddle tune up to speed in my regular jam.



Finally, I don't really know the path forward. I have trouble finding a teacher because my path is a bit different than most, although I did have a live teacher for about four months before the pandemic and she helped me tremendously with the basics (i.e., how to hold the bow and fiddle, etc...). I like most of the online instructors I've tried and subscribe to a couple.



Thanks for listening. Suggestions welcome!


Edited by - doryman on 08/23/2020 17:06:07

ChickenMan - Posted - 08/23/2020:  17:19:45


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

With certainty I can say that no instrument I've played has been harder to play well (i.e., sound good) but no instrument has been as fun. Sometimes I'm so bad I laugh out loud at the "music" I'm making and at other times I laugh in delight because something accidentally sounded good.






I often tell people they need to be able to embrace the noise to learn the fiddle, seems you've done that. wink



You mention not wanting to learn a list of tunes, but how else will your fingers know what to do when it's time to take the lead? 

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/23/2020:  18:27:47


John, sounds like a great start. I never did really learn the list or any list of tunes. I did like you, learned to shuffle...learned my way around notes...on the fiddle I think in terms of the one's, two's, low two's, low three's , three's four's...in other words, which finger goes down...not really in terms of notes themselves, by name or any of that...of course after having played guitar and banjo for decades, I'm well aware of chord progressions. But essentially, I am mainly in a state of improvising...I mean, I'm just looking for the right notes and depending on my bowing groove to carry me through...I know I sounded like a train wreck for a while, and sometimes still do...but it's all improved gradually as I've gone along over these past 12 years. Once in a while I catch myself getting into "habits" in playing one tune or another...not sure if that means i finally "know" the tune, or if it means it's time to change things up on that tune.

doryman - Posted - 08/23/2020:  18:29:28


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

quote:

Originally posted by doryman

With certainty I can say that no instrument I've played has been harder to play well (i.e., sound good) but no instrument has been as fun. Sometimes I'm so bad I laugh out loud at the "music" I'm making and at other times I laugh in delight because something accidentally sounded good.






I often tell people they need to be able to embrace the noise to learn the fiddle, seems you've done that. wink



You mention not wanting to learn a list of tunes, but how else will your fingers know what to do when it's time to take the lead? 






To clarify, I DO want to learn tunes, but it was not the FIRST thing I wanted to learn. I wanted to focus on back-up playing...chords, shuffles, arpeggios, etc...so that I could jump in and start playing with others, simply back-up stuff.  In reality I'm learning to do several things at once of course.    I think I started too late to ever become an amazing fiddle player, but I do hope to be able to hold my own in a jam sooner than later.  I'm lucky in that I bring my banjo to jams too, so I don't have to subject everyone to my fiddle playing for every. single. song. 

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/23/2020:  19:40:44


quote:

Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I wish you could too. I feel sorta guilty I got to do that...before I got the library job at the university, I figured neither one of us would ever retire...that job drove me crazy and I didn't like one minute of it or the workplace morale and atmosphere, or the pay...but the benefits...

<snip>

I hope you can retire soon and play fiddle all the time. That would be every fiddler's dream!






That's what happened to me! I got a job at a university. The benefits are great. Because of COVID we all work at home now. When I was in the office I finally earned an office with a window which sent a message to others that I was a valued employee. Now I'm just a face in a square on Zoom and a target for a mediocre male co-worker to make comments that feel hostile to me. Comments about my age. I just want to leave. I have no idea if 55 is old enough to retire. I just want to tell him to go **** himself and leave. Nobody would care, but I don't even care anymore that they wouldn't care. They're all just squares in Zoom now too. I have other things I'd rather do.

farmerjones - Posted - 08/23/2020:  20:06:01


Gotta give Doryman John a big thumbsup!yes From another multi-instrumentalist. Nothing in the past is wasted, or for naught. And each new gadget, one already knows what one wants. The Music is already in the head. And there's nothing like actually learning the instrument to also understand where each fits in the band. Pray for strength. The only thing left is drums.cheeky


Edited by - farmerjones on 08/23/2020 20:06:43

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/23/2020:  20:46:14


Diane, sorry you're going through that. Covid has really messed everything up. With my job, it had state retirement, the same as most state workers. For the lousy pay I got, the retirement is really good...that's why i could leave after 20 years there. But one tip I got from an old timer there was bypass the HR office at the university (if the retirement is a state pension) and go directly to the state office to work out what kind of deal you're eligible and when. The HR offices are bad and will mess you up...no idea what they're doing.

I was stalked by a prominent phd guy who was known in many parts of the world and highly regarded...so I had to do the best I could to politely deal with him and avoid him because I would have been fired for sure if I'd have opened my mouth about the misery he put me through. Universities can be a bad working environment at least for non-academic staff. There were a lot of bad things that went on in mine...just had to deal with it silently because there was no worker protection, no unions or anything...I stuck with it until I could get out with ANY kind of a pension.

RichJ - Posted - 08/27/2020:  08:46:14


Someone told me a true musician can't help but improve because they're never satisfied with the way they play.

BR5-49 - Posted - 08/27/2020:  10:33:16


I couldn't play a tune after a year.

Johnbow - Posted - 08/27/2020:  10:41:34


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

Someone told me a true musician can't help but improve because they're never satisfied with the way they play.






Well then, I must be a true musician...

RichJ - Posted - 08/27/2020:  10:56:40


quote:

Originally posted by Johnbow

quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

Someone told me a true musician can't help but improve because they're never satisfied with the way they play.






Well then, I must be a true musician...






If you keep plugging along like most of us, you are. 

Johnbow - Posted - 08/27/2020:  11:42:33


Agreed. As they say, it’s about the journey. Luckily, I enjoy the process immensely. Also, I keep my expectations reasonable... :)

alaskafiddler - Posted - 08/27/2020:  22:18:08


quote:

Originally posted by ShawnCraver

I couldn't play a tune after a year.






I don't recall if I could much play fiddle tunes after a year; but wasn't really my initial goal. (neither was being a fiddler). Related to another comment...



quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan



You mention not wanting to learn a list of tunes, but how else will your fingers know what to do when it's time to take the lead? 






I started out playing on songs, not really tunes. I was in a Country/rock type band at the time (guitar/bass); and my initial fiddling was just goal of adding sound of fiddle to those songs. I  was mostly playing either the basic simple song melody, or leads were pretty simple, (I relied on pentatonic scale a lot); and used very simple backup parts. Mostly were moderate or slow tempos songs. As far as actual fiddle tunes, I do recall working up a few sort of; the Cotton Eyed Joe... the line dance one; and that Don Rich "Cajun Fiddle" (is that a fiddle tune?) - I did also start to learn with actual tunes for fun (didn't put a lot time into it).



FWIW, fiddle was not near the hardest instrument for me to learn... indeed I learned to play above, ready for stage, in pretty quick order. (of course, it was simple and fairly limited; and I didn't start from zero, I knew the music and concepts). Keep in mind, I had a good band doing almost all the rhythmic work to keep it solid... and this style of songs, left quite a bit of wiggle room.



Don't know if being a fiddler has ever become a goal for me... been satisfied so far with being a bass player who learned to play a bunch of things on the fiddle that sound reasonably well. (that is, for a bass player). wink



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 08/27/2020 22:25:42

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/28/2020:  04:09:19


I at least thought I could play a few tunes after one year...lol. Now I think I can play some tunes after 12 years. But I guess as time goes along we might refine our expectations some, and in another several years my thinking might change again. I guess enjoyment of the process is what keeps fiddlers going. Everytime I hear beginners it seems to me after one year they are playing a whole lot better than I was at one year.



To any grammar freaks...I realize I split my subject and verb right off the bat...sorry, but it was fun to do...lol.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 08/28/2020 04:10:15

Johnbow - Posted - 08/28/2020:  08:47:49


I suppose if we’re telling our stories... In terms of my first year... Years ago, I started playing the fiddle and was in my 3rd month or so when I had a dirt bike accident hurting my left wrist. Not broken, but it created problems for me, (which to some degree I still have). After healing for a month or so, I found that the only thing I couldn’t do was play the fiddle. So, the fiddle went into it’s case and stayed there for a decade or so. One day, I had a strong urge to play and found a fiddle online for a good price. My ambition was to simply learn a few of the simpler tunes as taught by the very wonderful David Bragger on his YouTube channel. I figured that I could likely at least do that, and if I could only play the fiddle a couple times a week, well then at least I was playing. Anyway, that was then and these days I play quite a lot. I’ve given the instrument and the repertoire quite a bit of thought spending many hours listening. I learn almost entirely (though not exclusively), by ear. Lately, I’ve become fascinated by Jimmy Triplett’s recent recording of Lee Hammons’ tunes and have learned a few tunes off of it. I’ve improved enormously and am constantly amazed by the instrument and the tunes with old-time being my primary focus.



*I've edited to add that I eventually traded the fiddle that went into it's case for something - I believe a banjo, not sure.


Edited by - Johnbow on 08/28/2020 08:59:30

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 08/28/2020:  09:51:34


I went through a few David Bragger videos when I was starting out too. Although I realized I'm not much good at going up or down when a person says go up or down...lol...I get mixed up too easily with the vocal coaching and can't tell which way I'm going, but I gotta say David Bragger has probably helped a ton of people to get going on the fiddle by his generosity with putting youtube lessons out there. I only watched a few, but I learned quite a bit from what I did watch and really respect his music and all he is doing with it. I have a lot of gratitude for the folks, mostly online people and many who probably had no idea, David Bragger being one, that did help me get going and figure out what it was I was trying to do with the fiddle and just which way I should go to get started with it. Beginning fiddle, especially on your own, can be a big scary universe...lol. I'm mainly a self-taught type person who prefers to find my own way with most things and not seek advice...but a little guidance can sure be helpful to shave off a decade or two from the early learning experience.

Johnbow - Posted - 08/28/2020:  10:16:13


Yes, ma’am, there is just no doubt that he saved me years of sorting things out. Actually, if not for his videos and my knowing they existed, I’m not sure I would have bought that second fiddle. I find that I still incorporate many of the ideas he shares into my playing.

Mitch Reed - Posted - 09/04/2020:  03:47:59


Depending on your practice schedule you should be able to play a few tunes very well.



I knew a fella who only played about 12 tunes but they were 12 amazingly solid tunes. I’ve known folks who learned a new tune every week and all the tunes sounded as if they needed work.



At this point I suggest you nail down a handful of favorites. Then expand your repertoire from there.


Edited by - Mitch Reed on 09/04/2020 03:48:31

doryman - Posted - 09/14/2020:  20:06:52


quote:

Originally posted by Mitch Reed

Depending on your practice schedule you should be able to play a few tunes very well.



I knew a fella who only played about 12 tunes but they were 12 amazingly solid tunes. I’ve known folks who learned a new tune every week and all the tunes sounded as if they needed work.



At this point I suggest you nail down a handful of favorites. Then expand your repertoire from there.






Ha!  You've exactly described the dynamic between my daughter and I.  She's learning the fiddle in grade school and I'm learning it on my own as an old man.  She and all the other kids move rapidly from tune to tune as the school orchestra dictates and she always asks me why I keep practicing the same old tune over and over!   I tell her it's because I'm not satisfied with the way it sounds yet...I guess I'll be playing the same few tunes forever!

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